BOOK REVIEW: Mixed Marriage in the WWII era: For better or worse

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JAPANESE WAR BRIDES IN AMERICA: AN ORAL HISTORY

By Miki Ward Crawford, Katie Kaori Hayashi and Shizuko Suenaga

(Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers, 2009, 268 pp., $54.95, hardcover)

This is an interesting collection of oral histories of 19 Japanese War Brides who share their reflections, perspectives and experiences before, during and after World War II. This volume represents essentially a compilation of oral histories done by the three authors.

Miki Crawford provides a brief but effective historical overview for those unfamiliar with Japanese women who became War Brides during the American occupation.

Clearly this subject has not received the kind of attention that other aspects of the Japanese American experience has. Most Japanese American oral histories have focused on Issei and Nisei “before, during, and after” the concentration camp experience. This volume on Japanese War Brides is a welcome addition to the larger body of works, and provides much needed information.

However, as one reads their stories, one gets the feeling of a “cookie cutter” approach with an agenda. Most interesting is the fact that these 19 stories are out of some 230 oral histories that were done. One wonders what criteria was used to select these 19 for they all seem to represent the Cinderella storyline of “yes, it was difficult at first, but everything turned out wonderful and most would do it the exact same way.” One wonders it there were other oral histories reflecting marital difficulties that may have included the maintenance of patriarchal domination, social/cultural isolation, and forced dependency (e.g. forbidding them to drive) that this reviewer has witnessed among the numerous War Bride families over the years.

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